Sales and marketing each have their own strengths and value. For your distribution company to compete and succeed in today’s cut-throat marketplace, it’s important that you understand how sales and marketing automation can work together to keep your salespeople moving forward, help them retain their value, and speed up your sales cycle.

Because of recent advancements in marketing automation, your marketing team should provide more value than ever before.  Today, marketers can improve the functioning of your sales team by providing them with actionable information to better prepare them for a sales call, increase their value to their prospects, for and bring them closer than ever to direct contact with customers.

Marketing technology can track data, spot and predict trends, and provide information and tools to your sales team that will give them confidence and know-how. Using the right technology, your sales team will interact with both prospects and customers on a much deeper level than ever before possible.

How to Take Advantage of Marketing’s “Intelligence”

Technology today has the ability to easily identify and track customer actions. This information can be used to create real-time alerts (so a salesperson will know when to pick up the phone). When compiled into a customer profile, this information can shed light on how close a customer may be to a buying decision.

For example, if your website offers a downloadable guide detailing the advantages of your products, your salesperson will be alerted when a prospect takes action and downloads the guide.

Having this ability is easy, low-cost, and it’s been available for many years. Chances are, you and your competition are already using some variation of marketing automation already.

You can, however, take it several steps further if you’d like! For example,

  • Would you like to know whether a prospect who comes to your site also visits your competition?
  • How about whether the prospect sat in on a webinar for a competing product or service?
  • Would you like to know whether your prospect has a contract in place for services like yours and when it’s going to expire?
  • How about information that predicts exactly when the prospect is going to buy and what features he/she is searching for and reading about?
  • Would you like to know which country club a prospect belongs to, or where he or she plays golf, or what event they are attending next? This knowledge is helpful when a face-to-face encounter may advance a deal.

All of the information above and more is very available to you in today’s technologically advanced world. Following are some of the more common uses of marketing automation in the distribution industry.

Capture and Close High Quality Leads

The primary thrust of marketing automation is to capture leads and nurture them through the sales funnel before they’re handed off to sales. Compelling marketing content attracts and informs leads who will want to buy from your company and your salespeople. It’s important, therefore, to create a combined effort from both the marketing and sales teams to efficiently close as many deals as possible. For this reason, it is imperative that both teams work together and maintain close partnerships.

Identify / Track More Qualified Leads

As mentioned above, marketing automation will tell you pretty much every move a prospect makes on line (and even what device he’s making it on.)  It also gives you the ability to assign a score to each one of those movements and send up a red flag to your salesforce when those numbers add up to the prospect being “sales-ready.”

This is called lead scoring, and it’s a common strategy used by sales and marketing teams to know their prospects’ readiness and other factors so that salespeople can prioritize their calls. Setting up a minimum score threshold ensures that the sales team will only spend time contacting those leads who are actively displaying buying ‘behaviors.’ Once a lead crosses that threshold, the prospect is qualified, and your salesperson is much better prepared to make his move.

Get Into the Minds of Your Buyers

Marketing’s ability to create buyer personas greatly aids the sales process. Rather than trying to judge a customer’s qualifications, buyer personas give salespeople a better understanding of what products or services a prospect will want and what their most important concerns are. Even more important, your marketing automation product can quickly create dynamic content that will appeal directly to that persona.

Further, by using segmentation, your salespeople will also know how much business can be generated from an account and what their sweet spots for purchasing will be. You can then deploy the right marketing pieces to the right audience without wasting the time of your uninterested prospects.

Speed Up Conversions

Salespeople are great when it comes to one-on-one interactions with customers, but the beauty of marketing automation is that it will cultivate multiple leads into prospects by speeding up the sales cycle with well-placed collateral made available during the buyer’s journey through your sales funnel.

For instance, when a prospect would like product information such as a professionally written product description or guide that offers clear, consistent messaging, their preferred method for accessing this information would be from your website, not from a sales person. Making this information available frees up your salespeople’s time, and makes for a happier prospect.

Reduce Service Time

Keep in mind that a salesperson (as well as a customer service rep) can only answer questions for one customer at a time. This is where marketing shines. Multiple customers can have their questions answered at the same time by looking through your product listings or a FAQ. If you run an e-commerce site, you could even take some of your smaller orders through the site itself so your salesperson won’t have to spend half an hour trying to service an account that might only yield little to no profit.

Measure and Ensure the Satisfaction of Existing Customers

After a sale is made, what do you do next? Does your salesperson automatically reach out at the 30- 60- 90-day mark to check on satisfaction?

Marketing automation will handle some of your follow-up process by asking customers to fill out a short satisfaction survey, gauging how smoothly things went during a transaction or interaction and ferreting out any additional needs or concerns. When used in a timely way, it sends a message to the customer that you care.

It also helps you pinpoint weaknesses in the selling process and, when performed correctly, can give you powerful customer testimonials that can be shown to prospects, helping to demonstrate that your company can back up its promises.

Sound Complicated? It's Really Not!

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You can start this process of bringing the sales and marketing teams together and sharing to each what the other has to offer, and then incorporating members from each group into the others’ meetings. Both groups need to understand the others’ functions so they can meaningfully contribute and, as time goes on, the two teams will become increasingly intertwined as they work together towards the good of your company. It might not be an easy process for every company, but it’s a worthwhile one that can yield incredible results when managed properly.

Next Level iMedia

Right now, you can have an entire marketing agency available to fulfill your marketing needs – for a fraction of what it would cost to hire and manage your own team. Next Level iMedia has experience in bringing marketing and sales teams together and would love to be at your side providing your company with it’s own unique and successful marketing plan.

Learn more about how Next Level iMedia can be of service to your organization. Visit our contact page at: or call us at 203-312-9707.